Volunteer Spotlight: Taryn Sauthoff Uses Tech Talent for Good

Editor’s note: Viacom’s partner, Catchafire, originally published the article below on Medium. The two organizations collaborate on the Talent for Good program, which creates opportunities for Viacom employees to put their skills to work in the community.

Taryn Sauthoff, a Viacom employee in New York, is the embodiment of Talent for Good at work. She applied her web development skills to help YoungMoms, a non-profit organization that supports pregnant and parenting young women in rural Pennsylvania, build a new website. Sauthoff completed the volunteer project in a few months and continues to collaborate with the organization.

The homepage of YoungMoms, which Taryn Sauthoff helped develop.

Below is an excerpt from her testimonial:

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The 22nd Annual Viacommunity Day Was All Good, All Around (the Globe)

Friday, April 20 was truly a global day of giving. Nearly 4,000 employees from 25 different regions around the world contributed ideas, talent and compassion to more than 125 projects in local communities for the 22nd annual Viacommunity Day, a celebration of the company’s values and commitment to giving back.

The day’s theme was “ALL GOOD, ALL AROUND.” The scope of Viacom’s traditional day of service reflected this motif well, as all around the world, employees did good: helping at their regular offices, like Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters; trekking to community organizations, like Chrysalis in downtown Los Angeles; or cleaning up the shores of Australia’s Sydney Harbor National Park.

Viacom Corporate Social Responsibility Director Adam Robinson woke up at 4 a.m. in Los Angeles to watch employees begin to share photos and footage from sites like these around the world in real time on collaborative video production tool Seenit.

“It was as if I was watching Viacommunity Day unfold on the horizon line,” said Robinson. “Australia, Asia, Europe, New York, Nashville, Chicago, all the way to Los Angeles.”

Watch below:

“This was my 21st Viacommunity Day,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, who circulated through the on-site activities at 1515 Broadway, Viacom’s global headquarters in New York City, this year.

“Throughout this time, I have worked in [Viacom Headquarters], downtown Manhattan, Westchester County, Putnam County and Fairfield County,” he continued. “I’ve stuffed bags, provided ideas, painted objects, cleaned in all kinds of ways, painted fences and walls, raked and moved wood chips – lots of different things. What’s always the same is the passion and heart that our employees, and a select group of our talent, show as they help the community. What’s always the same is the happiness and thanks that comes from those that are being helped.

“As I visited different groups today, that’s what I saw once again. To me, that’s what makes Viacommunity Day such an important part of our culture and heritage. It is another reason why it is such an honor to be CEO this great company. I saw many great things today. All of the people involved reminded me, once again, just how important this initiative is to our company. Thank you everyone. You represent Viacom every day. In a world where there is incredible change, where some things are evolving and others arguably devolving, overall, Viacommunity Day is a constant.”

Let’s take a tour of these incredible sites, starting with our West Coast offices in California.

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Lifting Up Those Left Behind in L.A.’s Forgotten ZIP Codes

Watts is a Los Angeles neighborhood with a legacy of poverty, racial tension and violence. It’s notorious for the Watts Riots, a nightmarish five-day 1965 clash set off by police brutality and intensified by poor race relations. Today, residents of Watts’ low-income housing projects are still hindered by the city’s lack of interest in rehabilitating and modernizing their neighborhood. Children growing up in the area have more options to pick a gang than a college, and their tap water is potentially contaminated with lead or arsenic.

The 2017 Viacommunity Award winner, Flora Huang, was recognized for her efforts to help stop this cycle of hopelessness. Huang is Paramount’s vice president of Financial Planning, and she embodies the Viacommunity spirit of giving back year-round. Huang volunteers as a youth mentor for Red Eye, a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization focused on creating a network to connect the “the up and in” with the “down and out.”

Flora Huang helps a young mentee decorate for Halloween. Photo courtesy of Flora Huang.

“My goal is to provide consistency to kids who otherwise don’t have access to positive role models,” said Huang, who learned about Red Eye in 2016. “I let them know that there are alternatives beyond joining a gang and that they can be champions for their own success.”

As a mentor, Huang spends her Saturdays with Red Eye at the Imperial Courts Housing Projects in Watts.

“This is a part of the city most people choose never to venture,” said Huang. “This ZIP code is often forgotten; these kids are left behind. I choose to come here for the kids.”

On Huang’s first day at Red Eye, she spent the afternoon coloring and painting nails with a little girl named Kenayla. “She looked me in the eyes and asked if I would return next week,” Huang said. “She had pure joy in her eyes just from the hope that I’d be coming back.”

And so, she did.

The children who attend Red Eye’s Saturday mentoring sessions pose for a group picture. Photo courtesy of Flora Huang.

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A Viacom Employee Perk that Benefits Others

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
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Growing up in Pennsylvania coal country, Viacom’s Joe Gushen worked a lot with his hands. His father was a property developer, and Gushen’s childhood memories include painting “Tonka” on the back of his dad’s dump truck. As a teenager, he ripped wiring out of old apartments and helped build new ones.

When Gushen launched his career at Viacom out of Kutztown University eight years ago, he largely left this sort of manual labor behind, though he missed it as he moved from MTV.com to Comedy Central to his current role as director of multiplatform programming at Nick.

A couple of springs ago, Gushen briefly relived this sweating, physical past when he road-tripped from New York to Swannanoa, a small town outside of Asheville, N.C. to join a Habitat for Humanity build through Viacom’s Give and Take, which refunds five vacation days for a week spent volunteering through the program.

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Celebrating Our Change Makers: The Viacommunity Award Winners and Finalists

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Carson Smith, Human Resources manager at the Nickelodeon animation studio and recipient of one of the two 2014 Viacommunity Awards, started mentoring and community outreach programs for children throughout Burbank. Tessa Jordan, director of content and brand management at Nickelodeon International, received the other award for her work with Achilles International, supporting people with disabilities in athletics. Each received $10,000 toward their causes.

Our company is filled with people whose spirit of citizenship and teamwork is striking, both in their commitment to local communities and to their community of peers at Viacom. It’s only fitting that at our Viacom Town Hall, a discussion on all things related to our company community, we recognize employees who have demonstrated an extraordinary spirit of Viacommunity. Read More

VDAY2013: Thousands of Viacom Employees Rally to Give Back on Viacommunity Day

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

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Viacom’s year-long commitment to giving back culminates each year in Viacommunity Day, the Company’s annual day of volunteer service, during which we put on our out-of-office autoreplies, make our way to a volunteer project of our choice, and roll up our sleeves to do something good. Read More